The Cherokee religion

The songs and dances of Cherokee ceremonies and how their language is used as part of Christian wors

The Cherokee’s are very religious people. Before European contact we were religious in knowing we had a creator, and worshipped him through song and dance. The man would sing the songs and woman would keep a beat to the songs through instruments called shackles. They are made from turtle shells with river rocks inside and attached to a piece of leather; these are strapped to both of the woman’s legs.

Today some people use aluminum cans filled with pebbles to provide rhythm while they dance around the eternal fire.

When they dance they are singing and praying to the creator, just like people do today in the churches.

When one goes to a dance these days the families gather to visit, feast and they dance far into the night.

This is a place to worship and in the Cherokee language we call God, or creator, U-ne-tla-nv. This is our church, and just like any other churches you have no littering, liquor, and/or rowdy behavior.

Although we did not know him as God, it is the same person that we worshiped back then. Today some of the dances still go on the same way.

We had European influence and the missionaries who started pushing religion on us; because all of the beliefs were already there, it was very easy to switch the Cherokee’s into Christianity.

I believe most native tribe’s are very religious in their own way, because of the fact we live so close with the earth. Although some have evolved or others have been modified, the traditional Cherokee’s of today recognize the belief system as an integral part of day to day life.

Many Cherokees today go to church just as any other person does. I, personally, went to both the dances and churches while growing up. Although my father did not fully understand the dances, he did not forbid us from going.

Our father was a minister in some local churches and he would preach the sermon in the Cherokee language in the Tahlequah, Oklahoma, area where we lived and is considered Capital of the Cherokee Nation. Our mother grew up going to the Stomp dances as her religion while she was growing up. When she met our father and started raising their family they both started attending the local church.

A person can be of any denomination but most of the Cherokee people and family’s that I know are of Baptist faith. In the past they had all Cherokee preaching churches and also what we called a ‘white man’ church; all of the services would be preached in the English language. In the Cherokee churches these days they share both languages. There are not as many Cherokee’s that speak their native tongue anymore, so the sermons in the churches are done in the Cherokee language and in English, as well as, the songs that are sung in the Churches.

Most of my family still speak the Cherokee language and believe in God, Creator or U-ne-tla-nv as our lord and savior.

Kathy Van Buskirk is a Cherokee from Oklahoma, USA. She has been married for 25 years to Perry. They have two children, Christopher 25 and Melissa 10. She has worked at the Cherokee Heritage Center for 20 years.
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Brexit would jeopardise the rights of working women

Europe isn’t perfect, but without it millions of women and millions of trade unionists would be at risk of Tory deregulation. 

One of the most important arguments in favour of staying in the EU is the protections that membership affords working people.

Whether it’s equal rights for part-time workers, the agency workers directive or limits on the length of the working week, we all owe the European Union and its Social Charter – campaigned for by a generation of trade unionists from across the continent – a great deal.

Outside of Europe British workers would find themselves worse off both in terms of their pay packets and the rights that they rely on. Add to that the reality that outside the EU risks being a place with lower public spending thanks to a troubled economy and rising privatisation of our public services, you can understand why the vast majority of British trade unions are recommending that their members vote to remain.

And for working women, the choice is starker still, because women have that much more to lose when rights and protections are stripped from the workplace.

Just think what EU law guarantees for all working people through the social charter, and how losing these rights (and putting the Brexit bunch in charge) would impact on things we’ve all come to rely on like maternity pay and guaranteed holiday pay.

Think about how much harder the struggle for equal pay will be if it’s not underpinned by EU law.

Think about how a Boris Johnson led Tory government – outside of Europe, on the fringes of global influence and under increasing pressure from UKIP to withdraw even further from the modern world – would attack your working conditions.

The Tory right – fresh from dragging our country out of Europe and away from regulations that help keep us safe at work aren’t going to stop there. Their next port of call will be other sources of what they deem “red tape” – like equal rights legislation that helps ensure women have all the same opportunities afforded to their male colleagues.

That’s something that matters to me as a trade unionist and as a woman.

It’s something that matters to me as Assistant General Secretary of a union with more than a million female members – UNISON, the biggest membership organisation for women in the country.

It matters to me as President of the TUC – when most trade unionists are women and when we have the first female TUC General Secretary in Frances O’Grady.

But most of all it matters to me because of the stories of all of the women I’ve met and am proud to represent who benefit every single day from Europe-wide protection of their rights.

What we face is the risk of losing those rights to a cynical and desperate campaign based around false promises and rhetoric from the Brexiteers. What we need in this campaign is some straightforward honesty. So here’s my position in a single sentence: Europe isn’t perfect, but without it millions of women and millions of trade unionists would be at risk.

I won’t stand for that. Neither should you. And neither should they either.

Liz Snape is Assistant General Secretary of UNISON and President of the TUC